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Old 03-20-2020, 09:44 PM
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Tingly, uncomfortable feeling when people talk about blood


Not sure if this fits better in GQ, IMHO, or MPSIMS -- mods, feel free to move as appropriate.

I can't explain this feeling I get, but it's unpleasant and very occasionally I've come close to fainting (or at least felt like I was getting close to fainting). I get it when hearing someone talk about, or reading about, medical/health incidents regarding blood and piercing the skin. One of the most notable incidents happened about 15 years ago when a shipmate was telling us a detailed and gory story about a body piercing in a sensitive area. It was bothering me so much I had to ask him to stop, and then get a brief watch relief so I could walk around and clear my head.

This is not a big deal in my life and has only had a significant affect a handful of times, but I get a mild tingly and unpleasant feeling occasionally when reading/hearing about such episodes. Somehow seeing it on TV usually doesn't bother me nearly as much (though I almost always turn away).

Does this phenomenon have a name? Has anyone else experienced it?

EDIT: adding some other details that seem appropriate -- I believe my father has some variation of this, and has occasionally fainted when getting injections. Injections don't really bother me, and I've never fainted nor do I recall an unpleasant reaction from them, but I always make a point to turn my head and avoid watching the actual injection.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 03-20-2020 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:05 PM
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Since the OP is asking for personal experiences, let's move this to IMHO.

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Old 03-20-2020, 10:27 PM
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Hemophobia (fear of blood) seems to be the name of this type of anxiety. You are not the only person I have met who couldn't even talk about blood without becoming uncomfortable, even faint. (*cough, cough* my husband *cough, cough*)
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:30 PM
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Oh, sure - it’s extremely common.
I have a terrible needle phobia. Once had a nurse say “A big, muscular guy like you, afraid of a little needle?”
But, it’s not a rational fear - it’s like being afraid of snakes or spiders (neither of which I have any problems with).

Feeling faint when thinking about needles or blood is caused by a “vasovagal” response .

Last edited by beowulff; 03-20-2020 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:00 AM
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I had a moderate, not severe, problem for much of my long-lost younger days. One tech (either giving me a shot or drawing blood) told me that, in her experience, most people outgrow this as they get a little older. I did, mostly.

I have a theory how it got started: When I was very young, my parents took me to a doctor every year for a physical exam. That included a blood draw, done in a laboratory across the street. Those were the days when they actually looked at your blood under a microscope and hand-counted all the little red and white cells.

They would sit me down in a chair in the lab room, full of drawers and shelves full of scary-looking lab and medical equipment, like bottles of alcohol and boxes of syringes and gauze pads and bandages and what-not.

I always wanted to watch them draw the blood. But the nurse (or technician) doing it always said OHHHH!!!!! DON'T WATCH! TURN YOUR HEAD! LOOK THE OTHER WAAAAAY!

I think that taught me that there was something really scary about getting blood drawn. For the next 30-or-so years I was always queasy about getting blood drawn, and also getting the occasional shots. Seems like I've somehow outgrown that though, as predicted.

ETA: Forget to mention: The lab tech always put a drop of blood on a slide and smeared it out with edge of another slide and put it under the microscope, all while I was there, and they always let me look through the microscope at the red and white blood cells.

Last edited by Senegoid; 03-21-2020 at 02:02 AM.
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:55 AM
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I have a some sort of similar reflex presyncope. No actual syncope ever. And strangely, no actual phobia. I am not emotionally bothered in the least by blood, needles, surgery. But some autonomous bits in my brain respond strangely.

It took a while to connect the dots between literally every single school field trip to a medical facility, because I'd also sometimes experience the symptoms other times, like when standing to play my violin for a long time.

It seems to have lessened over the years.
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:54 AM
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My son is a corpsman in a Navy hospital. Part of his job involves drawing blood and giving shots to America's finest and bravest submarine crewmen. It's got to the point that he can tell soon as he start to swab the injection area if a patient is going to either become slightly panicked or outright faint. I think the technical term for them is, "big sissy on deck". Medical procedure is to revive patient and apply band aid to the owwie. Sometimes they give them some juice and a cookie.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:23 AM
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I fainted once at the Veterinarian. Decided right then I had no interest in working in Medicine.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:27 AM
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I fainted once at the Veterinarian. Decided right then I had no interest in working in Medicine.
What did they bring you in for?
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:33 AM
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Hiyo!
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:56 AM
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No problem with talking about it or seeing it (people who have livestock tend to see a fair bit), have no needle phobia, but I do know what you mean. To me it only happens if I see my husband bleeding. Since he works with his hands doing multiple kinds of jobs from felling trees to fixing the plumbing, this happens fairly regularly. The backs of my knees tingle and go weak. Briefly, then I regroup. Doesn't happen with anyone else's blood, including my own.

I think the next thing in severity would be actual dizziness. Since I get dizzy for many other reasons including low blood pressure you'd think I would progress to fainting but I don't.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:07 AM
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It's funny, because I don't recall ever having the feeling when I've cut myself while cooking or working with my hands. It's only when hearing or reading someone describe some bloody incident that they experienced. I don't like bloody scenes in movies, but they don't cause this feeling, just a mild revulsion.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:28 AM
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I get the feeling the OP describes as well when people talk of surgical procedures or describe painful incidents (i.e. “ I closed the car door on my finger”.)

I have it reliably when hearing about needles and injections DESPITE the fact that I myself inject insulin 5 or more times each day.

[I believe there’s a proper name for the phenomenon ]


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Old 03-21-2020, 12:29 PM
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You may be a candidate for Vaso Vagal Syncopy, although if you aren't fainting you either have a very mild case or something different. I have suffered from VVS my entire life and have taught myself how to avoid it, but it's always there and always something I have to watch for.
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Old 03-21-2020, 03:57 PM
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Different, but a coworker of mine had a phobia with things touching the eye. I was telling him about my Lasik surgery and he said "Stop, I can't talk about this."
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Old 03-21-2020, 05:30 PM
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I used to get a reaction like this if I saw my own blood in any quantity - it was a completely involuntary fainting reaction - not fear as such; I know that because the first time it happened was when I had blood taken for a test, and I felt curiosity, not fear - I watched the process happening and suddenly my extremities were buzziing/tingling, I felt terrible nausea and started to black out.

I didn't understand it to be related until the second time it happened.

I overcame it in stages by self-serve exposure therapy - A work colleague persuaded me to start giving blood, which turned out to be the perfect safe environment (surrounded by professionals to whom the problem is commonplace) to gradually expose to the phenomenon
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Old 03-21-2020, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
Not sure if this fits better in GQ, IMHO, or MPSIMS -- mods, feel free to move as appropriate.

I can't explain this feeling I get, but it's unpleasant and very occasionally I've come close to fainting (or at least felt like I was getting close to fainting). I get it when hearing someone talk about, or reading about, medical/health incidents regarding blood and piercing the skin. One of the most notable incidents happened about 15 years ago when a shipmate was telling us a detailed and gory story about a body piercing in a sensitive area. It was bothering me so much I had to ask him to stop, and then get a brief watch relief so I could walk around and clear my head.

This is not a big deal in my life and has only had a significant affect a handful of times, but I get a mild tingly and unpleasant feeling occasionally when reading/hearing about such episodes. Somehow seeing it on TV usually doesn't bother me nearly as much (though I almost always turn away).

Does this phenomenon have a name? Has anyone else experienced it?

EDIT: adding some other details that seem appropriate -- I believe my father has some variation of this, and has occasionally fainted when getting injections. Injections don't really bother me, and I've never fainted nor do I recall an unpleasant reaction from them, but I always make a point to turn my head and avoid watching the actual injection.
You're not my friend Jose, are you? Whenever I donated blood he'd tell me to stay away because just seeing the little bandage on my elbow freaked him out. He described his reaction almost exactly the same way you did. Once I came back from doing an apheresis donation with bandages on both elbows, and he nearly passed out.

I've known several other people other than him with either a worse or less bad version of this phobia, and they were all guys. I used to tell Jose he was really lucky he was a guy, because he'd have a real issue at "that time of the month."

Edited to add: The Doc Martin TV show is about a surgeon who develops this phobia, and hilarity ensues.

Last edited by carrps; 03-21-2020 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 03-21-2020, 05:48 PM
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You're not my friend Jose, are you? Whenever I donated blood he'd tell me to stay away because just seeing the little bandage on my elbow freaked him out. He described his reaction almost exactly the same way you did. Once I came back from doing an apheresis donation with bandages on both elbows, and he nearly passed out.

I've known several other people other than him with either a worse or less bad version of this phobia, and they were all guys. I used to tell Jose he was really lucky he was a guy, because he'd have a real issue at "that time of the month."
Mine isn't nearly so severe. Bandaids don't bother me at all.
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Old 03-22-2020, 12:58 AM
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I'm just a girl but blood never bothered me. When I go for phlebotomy I calmly watch the needle go in, watch the little tubes filling up, and always complement the phlebotomist on her deft skill.

On the other hand, I get freaked out by violence and can't stand to read about murders & atrocities, let alone see any pictures. Ugh.

There must be a range of responses to blood. I'm reminded of a street kid (in The Cross and the Switchblade, IIRC) whose response to blood was uncontrollable laughter; he described grabbing a knife by the blade and squeezing it, watching the blood pour out of his hand and laughing hysterically. Takes all kinds.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:00 PM
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I've known several other people other than him with either a worse or less bad version of this phobia, and they were all guys. I used to tell Jose he was really lucky he was a guy, because he'd have a real issue at "that time of the month."
I'm female and I get woozy at the sight of blood...but not menstrual blood. That's just gross and doesn't make me feel faint. Maybe because I know it's not an injury? I also can cope with knocked off scabs leading to bleeding.

But blood draws and someone getting hurt or a nose bleed are right out. And it turns out that the sight of blood also shoots my blood pressure up for a little while - at a health clinic I had my blood pressure taken literally 2 minutes after watching them do a blood stick on my finger and the nurse was quite concerned because my blood pressure was in the 170s. I explained the phobia and she retook it 5 minutes later and it was down to the high 130s, which is still high for me but a lot less worrisome.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:43 PM
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The theory I've heard is that this is an evolutionary survival mechanism to avoid bleeding out.

If you see blood, you unconsciously assume it is yours so your body lowers your blood pressure so you don't bleed to death.
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Old 03-22-2020, 10:52 PM
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As other's said, it's common. In fact, it's plenty common. A lot of people get squeamish (sometimes to the point of gagging) when the mention of blood comes up in a conversation.
I, OTOH, always seem to surprise nurses when I feel the need to watch them put an IV in. It stings, but it really doesn't bother me at all. Even with my dentist seems to find it off when I make it obvious he doesn't have to make a big ordeal over any shots he has to give me in my mouth. Just get it over with, I'll be fine.
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Old 03-23-2020, 11:16 AM
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It's a form of hypoxia. Sometimes it's severe enough that the mere mention of blood can trigger feeling faint.

For me, it's mostly limited to when I have to get a blood draw. No matter how well I try to prepare beforehand, I can get extremely dizzy and my vision blacks out, although so far I've managed to avoid actually passing out. I feel it's a combination of both low blood pressure and high anxiety when it comes to getting blood drawn (I had a horrible experience the first time, as a 6 year old). But the last time it happened was actually during a scalp biopsy, where I wasn't anxious at all, but because it was on my head the dizziness still hit me hard.

It's happened twice while watching a movie, although for the most part I'm able to handle gory scenes just first. The first time was in high school, and we watched a film about the Manson murders. started growing extremely dizzy, asked to leave the classroom, and fell down in the hallway just outside. The second time was just last year, watching the end of Gerald's Game. I had to close my eyes and rest my head on the floor. At least it happened at home - it's worse when it's anywhere else.
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Old 03-23-2020, 11:21 AM
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I'm female and I get woozy at the sight of blood...but not menstrual blood. That's just gross and doesn't make me feel faint. Maybe because I know it's not an injury? I also can cope with knocked off scabs leading to bleeding.

But blood draws and someone getting hurt or a nose bleed are right out. And it turns out that the sight of blood also shoots my blood pressure up for a little while - at a health clinic I had my blood pressure taken literally 2 minutes after watching them do a blood stick on my finger and the nurse was quite concerned because my blood pressure was in the 170s. I explained the phobia and she retook it 5 minutes later and it was down to the high 130s, which is still high for me but a lot less worrisome.
Same! If I'm at the doctor and I have no reason to believe I'll be getting a blood draw, my blood pressure is quite low (like, 120/80). If I'm getting a blood draw it's way up there, and I hear comments about how high it is! Heck, when I was getting my health check years ago for a hospital job, we had to get a TB test done, among other things. I had to get blood drawn as well. My blood pressure was so high that day, when I went back in 2 days later to have the TV test read, the nurse rechecked my blood pressure just to make sure it wasn't always that high!

Fortunately, shots in general I'm a lot better about than I used to be. It's just blood draws that lead to a LOT of stress. I feel awful for anyone taking blood from me, not because I try to be difficult, but I feel like just asking to lie down and for them to try the side of my arm first makes me one of those annoying, demanding patients.
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Old 03-23-2020, 11:58 AM
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but I feel like just asking to lie down and for them to try the side of my arm first makes me one of those annoying, demanding patients.
Totally anecdotal, but I've heard phlebotomists say they don't mind that. If you know what it's going to take (how you need to positions yourself, where to poke you etc) to get a vein on the first shot, by all means, tell them. They don't want to stick you a dozen times either.
I even heard (well, read) one person saying that IV drug users are the easiest because they can show you exactly the right spot.
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Old 03-23-2020, 04:55 PM
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Totally anecdotal, but I've heard phlebotomists say they don't mind that. If you know what it's going to take (how you need to positions yourself, where to poke you etc) to get a vein on the first shot, by all means, tell them. They don't want to stick you a dozen times either.
I even heard (well, read) one person saying that IV drug users are the easiest because they can show you exactly the right spot.
I'm not sure if the side of my arm makes it easier for them to get blood - jury is out as one tech really struggled and had to poke me again on the other arm while the last one managed totally fine. I hadn't been expecting a blood draw for the latter, however, and hadn't spent the entire day before drinking water. The latter time I did do that, and they let me completely lie down, which I'm sure is why that draw went as smoothly as it did.

The former time was horrible. Don't read this if you get tingly about blood draws. They had a cozy chair for draws, but nothing that let me actually lie down. I decided to suck it up, but asked if she'd try the side of my arm for the poke. She did, but after trying for a minute (plenty of time for my head to get hot and my vision to speckle out) gave up and said she needed to switch sides. She did, poking me right in the crease of my arm (which I'm sure works fine, but that skin is sensitive af and I really HATE being poked there). She was getting blood, so yay, but then told me she had to stop because, "your vein exploded."

Guys. No. NEVER tell a patient prone to hypoxia that their vein exploded. I get you're not being literal. But I'm instantly imagining all sorts of things best not imagined when I'm on the cusp of passing out. No. Bad technician. I ended up telling that little story to the last nurse who drew blood, and she assured me she'd never say that to anyone she was drawing blood from (I talked to her about it after the needle was out and I was free from dizziness).
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Old 03-24-2020, 04:18 AM
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And it turns out that the sight of blood also shoots my blood pressure up for a little while - at a health clinic I had my blood pressure taken literally 2 minutes after watching them do a blood stick on my finger and the nurse was quite concerned because my blood pressure was in the 170s. I explained the phobia and she retook it 5 minutes later and it was down to the high 130s, which is still high for me but a lot less worrisome.
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If you see blood, you unconsciously assume it is yours so your body lowers your blood pressure so you don't bleed to death.
An apparent contradiction?
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Old 03-24-2020, 12:20 PM
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The theory I've heard is that this is an evolutionary survival mechanism to avoid bleeding out.

If you see blood, you unconsciously assume it is yours so your body lowers your blood pressure so you don't bleed to death.
That's the main reason you're made to wait a while after donating blood. It's not just that you're a pint short but also there's a physiological reaction that has nothing to do with your mental state.

I used to donate blood regularly and one time I and another donor were talking as we were waiting out the fifteen minutes. She was an 8-gallon donor -- that's one of the things you brag about -- we were chatting away normaly, then she had just enough time to say, "Oh, my," and put her head down on the tabletop before she was out cold. I had to jump up and reach across the table to hold under her arms or she would have rolled to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

The staff was there in seconds and got her on the floor with her legs elevated. She recovered and was eased back into her chair after about five minutes, thoroughly embarrassed and said that had never happened to her before. I made a believer out of me and I never tried to shade the time after that.
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Old 03-24-2020, 02:29 PM
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I get the feeling the OP describes as well when people talk of surgical procedures or describe painful incidents (i.e. “ I closed the car door on my finger”.)

I have it reliably when hearing about needles and injections DESPITE the fact that I myself inject insulin 5 or more times each day.

[I believe there’s a proper name for the phenomenon ]


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If anyone knows of a name for squeamishness around talk of surgery or injuries or mutilation, but not specifically with blood or needles, please diagnose me!
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Old 03-24-2020, 05:34 PM
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An apparent contradiction?
I think the tingly feeling comes from a lack of oxygen to the extremities. I think the lack of blood flow to the extremities comes from changing your heart rate. So the low blood pressure (and the white face) comes from the heart, not by expanding the capillaries.
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Old 03-24-2020, 08:18 PM
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I think the tingly feeling comes from a lack of oxygen to the extremities. I think the lack of blood flow to the extremities comes from changing your heart rate. So the low blood pressure (and the white face) comes from the heart, not by expanding the capillaries.
I meant that elfkin477's blood pressure and Wesley Clark's were headed in opposite directions. One upward, the other downward.
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Old 03-28-2020, 03:45 PM
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I meant that elfkin477's blood pressure and Wesley Clark's were headed in opposite directions. One upward, the other downward.
Wesley Clark was talking about a theory, not his own blood pressure like Kovitlac and I were, so no, not really a contradiction.
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Old 03-28-2020, 05:02 PM
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That's the main reason you're made to wait a while after donating blood. It's not just that you're a pint short but also there's a physiological reaction that has nothing to do with your mental state.

I used to donate blood regularly and one time I and another donor were talking as we were waiting out the fifteen minutes. She was an 8-gallon donor -- that's one of the things you brag about -- we were chatting away normaly, then she had just enough time to say, "Oh, my," and put her head down on the tabletop before she was out cold. I had to jump up and reach across the table to hold under her arms or she would have rolled to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

The staff was there in seconds and got her on the floor with her legs elevated. She recovered and was eased back into her chair after about five minutes, thoroughly embarrassed and said that had never happened to her before. I made a believer out of me and I never tried to shade the time after that.
Huh, I'm one of those billion gallon donors, and I once almost passed out after a donation. I stupidly skipped breakfast. If I hadn't had this scrawny-but-brawny 90 year old with an iron grip on my arm, I'd have been out before I got to the cookie table.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:05 AM
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You would be surprised how many high school students think a piece of toast is a big breakfast. It's why the bloodmobiles are kept chilly with the AC...to minimize the body's reaction to LOSING A PINT OF BLOOD I MUST FREAK OUT NOW DANGER DANGER. The donor staff knows exactly what to do so I just try to stay out of the way. Usually the reaction doesn't last long.

It's not an uncommon reaction. Drinking plenty of fluids, having a good meal beforehand, and taking it easy for the rest of the day can help too.
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Old 03-30-2020, 06:57 AM
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That's the main reason you're made to wait a while after donating blood. It's not just that you're a pint short but also there's a physiological reaction that has nothing to do with your mental state.

I used to donate blood regularly and one time I and another donor were talking as we were waiting out the fifteen minutes. She was an 8-gallon donor -- that's one of the things you brag about -- we were chatting away normaly, then she had just enough time to say, "Oh, my," and put her head down on the tabletop before she was out cold. I had to jump up and reach across the table to hold under her arms or she would have rolled to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

The staff was there in seconds and got her on the floor with her legs elevated. She recovered and was eased back into her chair after about five minutes, thoroughly embarrassed and said that had never happened to her before. I made a believer out of me and I never tried to shade the time after that.
Yep - the staff at the donor clinics absolutely know what they are talking about (I guess, because they have seen it all before) - in the UK, we get drinks and snacks both before and after donating, but they won't serve hot drinks to anyone who is there for the first time, because there is a greater than normal (and unknown) risk that they might suddenly pass out and spill hot tea on themselves.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:58 AM
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As other's said, it's common. In fact, it's plenty common. A lot of people get squeamish (sometimes to the point of gagging) when the mention of blood comes up in a conversation.
I, OTOH, always seem to surprise nurses when I feel the need to watch them put an IV in. It stings, but it really doesn't bother me at all. Even with my dentist seems to find it off when I make it obvious he doesn't have to make a big ordeal over any shots he has to give me in my mouth. Just get it over with, I'll be fine.
Yeah, when I was a kid and had to get blood drawn, the nurses would always tell me to look away, and I refused. The surprise at being pricked was worse, to me, than watching and knowing when to expect it. Shots hurts a lot more, I guess because they were straight into muscle rather than at an oblique angle hitting a vein, but I had no issues with blood draws and IVs or anything like that.

My wife, though, is similar to the OP. Any mention of any detail of any medical procedure and she visibly winces, becomes uncomfortable, and asks to change the subject or puts her hands over her ears if, for some reason, that is not possible.
  #37  
Old 03-30-2020, 11:01 AM
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Reading this thread it struck me that I've never given blood, despite several opportunities, and quite obviously this is why. I think I'm a generous guy -- with time, money, and effort -- but every time the bloodmobile or whatever was nearby, and folks talked about going to give blood, I declined, without quite knowing why I didn't want to do it.

The idea still scares me, but I should probably try it just to see if I can.
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Old 03-30-2020, 11:32 AM
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I feel ya, iiandyiiii. I'm okay with hearing about blood, and I've learned not to freak out over a blood draw; but I know to turn my head and not look. Can't stand the sight of my own blood - makes me light-headed.

Doesn't even have to be real blood. I got dizzy one Hallowe'en, applying fake blood under my eyes. Cool effect, but the feeling of it running down my face, plus the sight of that dark red, had me bending over and clutching my knees.
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  #39  
Old 03-31-2020, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post

The idea still scares me, but I should probably try it just to see if I can.
Let the donor staff know your issues. They should be trained on dealing with first time donors and can usually get you through it. At least you'll know what's involved. For many people, the fear in their head is greater than the reality.
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